LONGVIEW - Longview used a strong second-half comeback and escaped when Waco's Bryan Hawkins, rated one of the top kickers in the state, missed a 37-yard field goal with just over a minute left at Lobo Stadium Friday night, leaving the Lobos with a 20-17 triumph in the season-opener for both schools.
The game, according to some prep experts, was billed as the top Class 5A game in the stat.e It was the second win in as many years for Longview over the Lions.
Waco, on the unexpected strength of quarterback Elverna Williams' arm, jumped out to a 17-0 halftime advantage. Williams, a 6'2, 205-pound blue chipper, hit 8 of 15 passes for 129 yards and a touchdown in the first half, but he was held to a 2-of-5 performance for just 11 yards in the second half.
Still it was almost enough to pull off a tie.
The Lions moved from their own 39 to the Longview 16 in the closing minutes, but on third-and-one Longview middle linebacker Kendrie Nichols, a three year starter, tackled Williams for a 4-yard loss. Hawkins, who had boots a 42-yard field goal on the game's opening drive, came on for a 37-yard attempt but missed his mark.
The Lobos then ran out the final 1:14 of the clock.
Longview, which held the Lions to 66 total yards in the second half, wasted little time in narrowing the gap in the third quarter as two-time stat track meet qualifier Eric Andrews raced 95 yards with the opening kickoff for a touchdown. Darren Danielson added the point-after and it was 17-7.
Three plays later strong safety Chris Cox intercepted Williams and the Lobos were back on offense at the Waco 40-yard line.
Keeping the ball on the ground, and taking advantage of a Lions personal foul penalty at the 9-yard line, Longview went on in for another quick score when L.V. Fite scored the first of his two touchdowns on the night, this one with 7:12 still left in the third period.
Waco led 17-13 after a Longview two-point attempt failed.
The winning touchdown was set up in the final quarter when Horace Woods recovered a fumble at the Lions' 40. Seven plays later Fite, who rushed for 117 yards on 27 carries, tacked on his second tally and Danielson added the PAT for the 20-17 lead with 4:55 remaining.
Williams' passing kept a long 14-play drive alive to open the game, although it resulted in only three points. The tall quarterback hit two key tosses in the march, for 9 and 16 yards and handed to Ward for a one-yard drive on a fourth-and-one play near midfield.
The drive, which was also kept alive thanks to a fourth-down, 15-yard Lobo personal foul penalty stalled inside the Longview 30 and Hawkins came on to convert a 42-yard field goal with 6:44 left in the opening period.
Korley Ward also scored on a 1-yard dive with 2:44 left in the first half and Hawkins' PAT made it 10-0, and a 33-yard Williams-to-Donnie Bible strike made it 17-0.